THE ‘Rule of Law and Access to Justice’ are of great importance in any country, and it applies especially to Guyana’s situation and the last election. That now infamous March 02, 2020, Guyana General and Regional Elections will always be remembered for what the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) perpetrated. In simple language, their prolonged and bare-faced attempts at rigging constitute a crime of disproportionate immensity, and I am happy to note that President Irfaan Ali has resounded his promise of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into what transpired between March and August of 2020, the period between the actual casting of the votes and the declaration of the verified results.
In this modern era, I remind readers that justice is an area of increasing importance and according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is inextricably connected to human development and poverty eradication, since it is the fulcrum for all human rights. So, it means when an election is stolen or there were prolonged attempts to block the official winners, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
In this vein, the Guyana President is set to fulfill his commitment for a complete investigation in the post-March 02, 2020 happenings by the APNU+AFC, and which were observed and condemned by the entire world. I remember that the President, as early as October 2020, made known to the public this desire, and by extension, that of all right-minded Guyanese, for a full-blown investigation.
In fact, quite a few months back, the populace was informed that the “Guyana Government was already in talks with the international community regarding a forensic review of the events of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.” Our elections attracted more than a mere cursory look: there was and still is a huge global interest in a move towards a parsing of the events that sought at the time to shroud transparency and fairness.
So to hear just a few days back, that “It is going to come and it will come soon,” is indeed a welcome thing from President Ali.
By now, we all know that this President sticks to his commitment. This has been the case so far in his tenure — social amelioration; easing of financial burdens; care during the COVID-19 pandemic; better access to housing, and more and better infrastructural development, etc. So, the investigation into attempts to rig the elections in an effort to keep the retired Brigadier David Granger and his Coalition APNU+AFC in power, at the expense of the authentic winner, Dr Irfaan Ali and the PPP/C, will soon be a major happening in Guyana.
So, if this planned CoI unfolds quicker than the five months of near chaos engendered by APNU+FC, it will finally put to rest the elections aftermath. And if all goes well, the same principles that were enforced on the elections will be again utilised by the investigators, that is, principles of transparency, evidence substantiation, and supremacy of the constitution. In this way, even when the losers are established, they can only grumble and fuss.
That is why it is assuring to all Guyanese that the Head of State has indicated that the actual composition of personnel for the CoI will leave nothing to chance and no one in doubt. The commissioners, he said, are likely to be drawn from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Commonwealth. After all, they were on hand and recorded everything.
I close with the presidential resolve: “We cannot continue to have an elections secretariat that conducts itself… in a way that the last secretariat conducted itself, that damaged the international, local and regional credibility of our country, damaged our democracy and really set us back in terms of our development pathway…” and “What we want to see is a transparent, professional, accountable elections secretariat…I want to see an elections secretariat that acts without fear or favour; that acts without bias; that is loyal to Guyana; that upholds the constitution of Guyana; that upholds their Oath of Office; that is independent; and that delivers to the Guyanese people in a democratic, free and fair manner.”